Pure Confidence Review - A Race to the Finish

Penned by award-winning Carlyle Brown and directed by talented Marya Mazor, PURE CONFIDENCE was originally commissioned by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky. Presented by the Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble, a group which offers the audience thought-provoking, challenging, and humorous tales seen through the eye of the artist of color, PURE CONFIDENCE carries on their tradition with humor and insight. In 2010 and 2012, the Ensemble garnered two NAACP Theatre Awards for its unflinching look at issues of race.


Armond Edward Dorsey, William Salyers, and Eamon Hunt - Photo by Ed Krieger

PURE CONFIDENCE is a high-stakes Civil War drama about horse racing, race relations, love, and dignity which transcends its time period and suggests that times change – but people remain much the same. Colonel Wiley Johnson (William Salyers) owns both the cocky, outspoken colored jockey Simon Cato (Armond Edward Dorsey) and the champion horse, Pure Confidence.  The Colonel’s wife Mattie (Deborah Puette) owns Caroline (Tamarra Graham), who will become Cato’s wife. The devious Cato has big plans to earn his freedom and uses careful planning and quick-witted thinking in his attempts to buy his and his wife’s freedom – until the Civil War changes everything about life in the South.

Armond Edward Dorsey, Deborah Puette, William Salyers, and Tamarra Graham - Photo by Ed Krieger

PURE CONFIDENCE is a beautifully written, well-acted, carefully directed tale reflecting the many levels of humanity and personal connection which will always be present when more than two people interact – and most especially when they interact in troubled times. This is an engaging play that digs into the depths of the soul with a deceptively light but at the same time perceptive hand. Kudos to all involved, including playwright Carlyle Brown, director Marya Mazor, and the talented actors who peel away social layers slowly and deliberately to reach the heart of the matter.

Tamarra Graham and Armond Edward Dorsey - Photo by Ed Krieger

Tom Buderwitz’s scenic design - coupled with Mylette Nora’s costumes, Pablo Santiago’s lighting, and John Nobori’s sound – combine to lure the audience back to the Kentucky of 150 years ago. The entire production team does an effective job of recreating the ambiance of the past.  And that includes some twangy country ballads.

Armond Edward Dorsey, Dylan John Seaton, and Eamon Hunt - Photo by Ed Krieger

This is a thought-provoking piece which should inspire some questions – perhaps without easy answers. At the same time, PURE CONFIDENCE will give the audience an enjoyable few hours which should not be missed. On multiple levels, this is a production which will please, entertain, and keep the audience chuckling (and sometimes a bit tearful) while trying to guess what comes next.

William Salyers, Deborah Puette, Tamarra Graham, and Eamon Hunt - Photo by Ed Krieger


PURE CONFIDENCE is a Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble production which runs through May 14, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Sacred Fools Theatre Complex is located at 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Tickets range from $25 to $34. For information and reservations, call 323-960-7745 or go online.  

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